Vulcan's Aftermath
-- after Christian Vincent's "Cockfight (1999, oil on canvas)"

Skyscrapers implode as streets buckle.
The city is torching its ancient violins.
If only I can comprehend why we must meet in hotel rooms with

monographed towels.
With gold-embossed stationery.
Why are you addicted to lobbies edged by blue marble wombs
sprouting yellow grass?
Where all lucre is filthy.
Where hovering waitresses look underage except for their breasts or
where skirts split.
Which Frenchman said the most erotic span is where a breach reveals
female flesh?
The midriff between sweater and jeans?
The cleavage when a blue velvet blouse is unbuttoned?
(I can still feel the callused tips of your fingers clawing there.)

There must be another section of this city where even you would be at

ease with revealing your face.
Where you would touch me from a motivation that excludes fear of
Where, as a poet has whispered, flowers need never be ferocious.
Where there is no such thing as invisible ink.
Where, as a poet has whispered, carnivores forget their nature.
There must be another neighborhood where cherry blossoms never miss
their seasons.

Yet the flames continue rising and now the sky cringes from black

An angel sacrifices his wings only to be jailed by the Mayor and two
I raise my hand to beckon a waitress, my diamond ring beaming forth rapiers
that slice at light.
I summon a girl with red hair who reeks of lilac perfume.
The split on her skirt reveals a ziggurat tattooed on her inner left thigh.
But I am most struck by her eyes - they lack color, and I am felled by
this evidence of a life force dissipating.

If only the city has not spent a century squandering its water supply.
If only women were still expert at wearing their hair up.
If only blue velvet never slithered off my shoulders.
If only your hands were not chilled by the acts of former lovers.
If only my mother believed Rapunzel wants to be isolated in a turret.
If only Vulcan retained humility after he discovered fire.
If only, if only, men in dark suits paid pale boys to go to school instead

of boxing with each other bare-fisted.

Untitled (Bookstore), 2000
--for John Yau

Where Mathematics Come From
The Stranger In The Mirror
The Twelve Wild Swans
In The Heart Of The Sea

Power, Money, Fame, Sex - A User's Guide
Beer And Circus
A Vast Conspiracy
Blood Of The Liberals

And Tiger Told The Shark - A

Collection Of The Greatest True
Golf Stories Of All Time
POTUS Speaks

The Case For Marriage
The Path Of Practice
Field Guide To The American Teenager
The Zen Of Listening

Immutable Laws Of Internet Branding
Darkness In El Dorado
A Brief History of Tomorrow
Brunelleschi's Rome

When Genius Failed
Spirit Matters
The Half-Jewish Book: A Celebration
Decoding Darkness

Perhaps This Second Drift
--after "First Drift" by Andrew Joron

If we diminish, to be diminished-this recurring punch line so alien with its familiarity: cruelty is a flawed strategy and yet we discover our cheek against its torso--

If we cannot be more than our least lazy possibilities-the "older woman" weeps from a tongue offered to create a future memory of silk black hose rupturing over thighs of moonshine--

Beauty is reductive. Therefore, within a shadow box my palm perpetually caresses the 45-degree rise of your belly for I, the "older woman," heard how human history whispers: men with flat bellies should be trusted rarely. Which does not obviate my clinging to the piano's highest scale--

Toward a man with colorless eyes who transformed me into a virgin so he could roll cigars from tobacco leaves pressed against the tendons riveting my thighs.

"An excessive choral indwelling," as if perfumed, cushioned salons did not prevent Cellini from feeling the blissful difficulty of art--as if Lorrain and Cezanne did not obsess over one problem for all of their lives: the landscape's inarticulate rhythm through boulders in sienna, in sepia.

After the Jewish artist hammered three rows of nails against a white wall to evoke 17th century prisoners convicted of infanticide, the lamp and shadows conspired to weave a lace border I wanted to hem on my sleeves.

--In Athenian vase painting, the red-figure style allowed artists to describe gesture and expression for the first time; the technical advance destroyed the harmonious relation of all-black figures against light grounds. From this enforced binary, simultaneity was birthed through dimorphic vases through which the same scene was depicted in both red and black. To witness simultaneity, one must turn the vessel.

"We also (wanting elision)" would be dung on your fields, grow there the honeysuckle I would sip and lather on your lips as I tear the stitches from your coat to unearth pages you once wrote surreptitiously. (By the flicker of a flame from a quarter-inch candle stub.) All is my fodder: all is my father.

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